“Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to Him with her sons, and kneeling before Him she asked Him for something. And He said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to Him, ‘Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your kingdom.’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?’ They said to Him, ‘We are able.’ He said to them, ‘You will drink My cup, but to sit at My right hand and at My left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.’” (Matthew 20:20-23 ESV)
I really wonder if James and John were embarrassed by their mother’s request. She wants them to be in the most powerful seats in Jesus’ kingdom—His right- and left-hand men.
She doesn’t know what she’s asking for. Jesus’ throne will be a cross; and at His right and left hand will be two dying thieves. No wonder He asks if they are able to drink the cup that He will drink from!
But even though they won’t be crucified, they will indeed suffer. Suffering is a normal part of every Christian’s life. As Jesus warned us, “A servant is not greater than his master” (John 15:20b ESV). To follow Jesus is to put yourself at odds with the way the fallen world works—to risk embarrassment, scorn, lost opportunities, and actual harm for His sake. And what do we gain?
We gain Jesus. We have the joy of being with Him, next to Him, in the presence of the One who gave Himself for us. What could be better?
Prayer: Lord, set my heart on You. Amen.
* Name something small you have lost or suffered for Jesus.
* Was it worth it?
* Why do you think so?
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on March 11, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved